Treatments of stomach cancers may require a multi-modality approach with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Each treatment has its own side effects and sometimes the side effects of radiation therapy can worsen side effects from the other treatments.

Acute side effects

  • Nausea and vomiting – sometimes patient need to be admitted for hydration intravenously
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of weight
  • Skin reaction
  • Rarely – irritation of the food pipe or stomach that can cause bleeding

Some patients cannot get enough nutrition while the above side effects occur and occasionally need a feeding tube either via the nose (naso-gastric tube) or stomach (gastrostomy tube) to support them while they are having treatment.

Late side effects

  • Inflammation or scarring on the lungs that can cause cough and shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the covering of the heart (called the pericardium)
  • Inflammation of the liver or deterioration in the function of the liver
  • Deterioration in the function of the kidney – this is uncommon
  • Narrowing of the food pipe, causing trouble swallowing
  • Ulceration of the food pipe or stomach that can cause bleeding too
  • Narrowing or ulceration (can cause bleeding) of the small or large bowel
  • Very rare – another tumour in years to come as a result of the radiation therapy

Information and Guidance

Radiotherapy Treatment Process

Click below for a video that shows the external beam radiotherapy treatment process.